Putting the Focus Back on the User Journey

August 1, 20176min

It is no secret that consumers today want to be able to connect and interact with retailers 24/7, no matter where they are and what devices they’re using. With research from Forrester revealing that there’s a $1.5 trillion global market for retail sales that begin online and end in-store, it’s clear that user journeys are becoming more complex.  As a result, it is becoming more and more difficult for retailers, big and small, to track the customer journey and understand that the shopper online is the same as the one who purchased in store.  But not having this customer insight is a risk that no savvy retailer is willing to take.

While many retailers have responded to this problem by improving their app offerings and tracking customers on their website, a lot of this information is still siloed.  What’s more, brands may understand that a shopper has bought something on their site but they don’t have an insight into how they got there and how long it took them to finally buy the product.

Retailers have to fully understand their customers’ purchasing journeys throughout the nebulous omnichannel space, something which requires proper measurement tools and systems. Only then can they piece together the puzzle of how to provide their customers with the best possible experience.

Understanding Omnichannel Customers

To get the full picture of this journey there needs to be a shift away from measuring device data towards measuring user data instead. Pooling data together instead of siloing it can allow retailers to uncover new opportunities they had no idea about.

According to research by Criteo device-centric measurement is deceiving. By recording as a single-visit purchases that are actually visits by the same user on another device gives marketers an inaccurate view of their customer landscape.  By applying proper cross-device measurement, the Criteo research found that buyers’ journeys are 41% longer than expected. 

This arms retailers with invaluable information about the purchase journey, enabling them to adapt their marketing approach to optimise offers and the user experience at every step and increase the likelihood of conversion on every visit on any device.  Without insights into their own customers’ buying habits across all platforms, businesses are operating on a hit-and-hope basis.

This revised focus on the user also allows for individual devices’ role in the journey to be better understood. For example, the same research has shown that the “browse on smartphone, buy on desktop” maxim no longer holds as true as it once did. While 30% of cross-device desktop purchases started on a smartphone, the research also reveals that 24% of cross-device smartphone transactions started on a desktop.

As a result it’s apparent that consumers are taking a more fluid approach to their online purchases, but without cross-device measurement to trace these journeys, retailers will find it hard to tell what this approach is and how to adapt to it.

Measurement Accuracy

Once they’ve plotted the customer’s course on their omnichannel journey, retailers can start to properly attribute their sales. With users flitting from device to device, it’s imperative to know how activity on one platform influenced the other, or risk misallocating spend and resources.

For example, cross-device measurement from Criteo showed that conversion rates for customers visiting a product page were 40% higher than previously thought when a device-centric approach was taken which chronicled the entire customer journey.

What’s more, the average products viewed, add-to-basket rate and checkout rate for the average consumer also increased when measured in this manner.

With such a notable proportion of sales potentially being misattributed, it’s more important than ever for retailers to use proper measurement tools to get the most out of the omnichannel. Those who can track the customer journey are able to identify where the bottlenecks are, and adapt their marketing practices and consumer approach to address them.

This understanding will be vital for retailers as customers look set to embark upon a new journey that brings the digital and physical customer experience closers together than ever before. Before novel approaches such as beacon technology and VR dressing rooms are used to entice customers, retailers must be able to understand the current state of play, and how these developments can be used to improve the customer journey.

Interesting Links:

John Gillan

John Gillan

John Gillan currently works at Criteo as their Managing Director for Northern Europe. Prior to that he spent nearly ten years at Google as an Industry Leader and focused on building up their retail business, before which he worked for a number of FMCG companies in various sales and marketing roles. He is passionate about helping retailers drive their e-commerce sales and brands online.

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